Heli Challenge Trophy 2009
Photos from this event can be viewed in the gallery -- click here.
Round one of the Heli Challenge was held in Athlone Model Flying Club on Saturday the 6th of June 2009. This was the first event held at the newly established club in the outskirts of Athlone. Despite the wonderful sun we had all week we were unlucky enough to have a dull and rainy day, however, this did not reflect the atmosphere of the pilots or spectators on the day.
It took a while for the competition to kick off due to bad weather but when the rain subsided we saw some great flights. After the set manoeuvres stage and between the inverted hovers and stall turns we had a great barbeque, in the rain!!! After we had our grub the free styles began. The novice level pilots put on a great display with Richard Fallon taking 3rd position followed by Noel Campion in second leaving Andrew Cambell to snatch the first prize after an outstanding freestyle flight.
In the Sportsman Mike Halpin took 3rd position followed by Sylvester Lenehan in second . PJ Harte with walked away with 1st place in the sportsman category.
On behalf of all the members of Athlone Model Flying Club we would like to thank all the pilots, adjudicators, MACI and the spectators that made the event so enjoyable!
Saturday the 22nd of August started off to everyone's amazement with clear blue skies and little to no wind (the infant of Prague must have worked) for what was to be the first Heli Challenge event to be hosted by the Cork Model Aero Club.
Most of the morning was taken up by people getting in some practice flights and the running of A certificates tests before the 1st round began. 5 people in all passed their A certificates which goes to show how well these events are promoting helicopter flying in Ireland. Congratulations to Noel Campion, Federico Gilli, P J Browne, Alan Gerety and last but not least myself (Diarmuid O'Mahony).
John O'Rourke who was acting as CD called the pilots briefing and soon afterwards the set manoeuvers got under way with 6 entrants flying Novice and 5 entrants in the Sportman with judges John O'Rourke, Philip Hughes and John Kelly.
The clear blue skies where now well gone and rain was looking very likely and it was decided that food was the next order of business and everyone got stuck into the burgers which Ralph McCarthy had been preparing on the barbeque.
Luckily the rain never fell and the free style rounds where completed without any problems. It was looking like this was going to be an incident free day but the flying continued after the competition had finished and Sylvester Lenihan gave us an education on what happens to an engine when it runs too lean!
I would like to say thanks to all the CMAC members who helped to organise and support the event and to ensure the site was in great condition. Thanks to Philip O'Brien for organising the prizes (even though he couldn't make the event) and to Ralph McCarthy for his legendary culinary skills.
We could not say we were blessed with the weather on the 5th September but at least the rain stayed away. It was unseasonably cold and quite windy with a south westerly gusting to about 30km/h. However the round was very well attended with thirteen competitors and many more helpers and spectators.
The day followed the format which has become popular of late with A/B cert examinations being run off first. Several eager pilots earned their stripes under the keen eye of the examiners, lead by Heli Secretary P.J. Harte.
When the competition proper got going we had a nice split of seven sportsman and six novice competitors. As one of the judges I would like to offer an observation for competitors in future rounds. I suppose, in a way, it’s the key to winning the Heli-Challenge Trophy – which, of course, was designed so that a Novice or Sportsman could win. It’s a simple observation, all of those who had a solid ‘Set Manoeuvres’ and maintained their composure for the ‘Freestyle’ flight, were in contention for a win. But several capable ‘3D’ pilots who had a poor ‘Sets’ were out of the running. If we took one or two flights of an average Sunday to practice our ‘Set’ routine and really nail those manoeuvres then it would really make the competition day so much easier and the scores would reflect this effort. Let’s face it – it’s easier to earn good points in ‘Sets’ than in the ‘Free’ these days. Of course it is a prerequisite that the manoeuvre is fully understood and executed correctly too. But this is easy; just get your hands on a copy of the Manoeuvres which are clearly laid out in diagram and text. Also, make it your business to attend the next judge’s course and hear all the secrets!
It also worth making a quick point about the callers, several points were lost due to bad calling on manoeuvres, this is obviously a symptom of electing a caller on the day and the caller themselves cannot really be held responsible. If you want to win then work with a caller during your practice and be clear on starts and finishes.
Anyway, back to the day! Novice first and the wind was a real problem for centring and height control. However, Romka Vanickis from Athlone Club was clearly on his game with a 24 point margin over anyone else. Particularly impressive when you hear he has only been flying four months (yikes!). Our own Donal Culleton was his closest nemesis followed by Declan Gallagher.
There was no let-up in the attack by Romka in Novice Freestyle, he opened the gap again, with a score of 185, 34 points ahead of 2nd placed freestyler Diarmuid O’Mahoney.
In the end Romka took 1st, Declan Gallagher 2nd and Diarmuid O’Mahoney 3rd.
Sportsman’s was very competitive as usual. It was not dominated by one force as was novice, what I mean is – although Noel Campion got the highest score in Set and Paddy Dorney scored highest in Freestyle, the sly ole dog P.J. Harte sneaked under the radar and due to consistent scores of over 200 in each discipline, came away with the 1st place. Noel followed in a very close 2nd and George Ryan gave a solid performance for 3rd.
David Nolan made the long trip with his dad Liam to help on the judging panel and also gave a full-blooded freestyle demo flight at the lunch break and a big thanks to our own Declan double-act, Declan Heneghan and Declan Milne for the BBQ’d burgers and sausages. Flying continued ‘off the peg’ after the competition and all agreed that it was a very enjoyable day. Thanks also to CD John Kelly, fellow judges Philip Hughes and David Nolan and everyone else who attended and helped out.